Trails: Interpretive and Homestead Trails
County at Education
Geographic Location: south of
Length: 1 mile
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: October 2015
Overview: A short loop around the backwaters of
featuring an historic homestead site. A.J.
Center Information: https://campbell.ca.uky.edu/EnvironmentalEducationCenter
Google Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=470803
Directions to the trailhead: From the intersection of SR 10 and
in Alexandria, drive US 27 south 5
miles to SR 824. Turn left on SR
824. Drive SR 824 east 0.8 miles to the
signed on the right. Turn right to enter the center and park in
the first gravel lot on the right. Campbell County
The hike: Located on the south side of greater
the at Campbell County
consists of 50 acres within the county’s largest park. Dating to 1998, the Center is a cooperative
effort between A.J.
and the Campbell County . The Center’s lone interpretive building
contains some aquariums, a bird blind, an observation beehive, and a solar
energy system among other items of interest. University of Kentucky
The adjacent areas of
feature many amenities including
a scenic lakeside golf course, a 75-site campground, athletic fields of many
types, and a disc golf course. This
impressive list of amenities makes A.J. Jolly
more resemble a large state park than a small county park. The park proper offers 20 miles of trails,
but the park’s trails are also open to equestrian use. Therefore, the park’s best hike can be found
on the short hiker-only Interpretive and Homestead Trails offered by the A.J.
Jolly Park . These are the trails used to form this hike. Education
|Beginning of Interpretive Trail|
Two trails leave from the south side of the gravel road connecting the gravel parking lot and the Center’s interpretive building. The two trails come together in only a few hundred feet to form the Interpretive Trail, so the choice is yours. The trail closer to the creek is more scenic because it crosses a short boardwalk over a wetland, the backwaters of
. True to the Center’s educational directive,
numerous interpretive signs describe the flora and fauna seen on this trail. A.J.
After the two initial trail options come together, the wide grassy Interpretive Trail heads southeast with an inlet of
visible on the right. When I hiked this
trail on a warm sunny mid-October afternoon, a large group of mallard ducks was
plying the shallow grass-filled lake waters.
At 0.2 miles, the trail passes through a sunny grassy area marked as a
wildlife opening. I saw no wildlife here
on my visit, but deer would frequent areas such as this one on early mornings
and late afternoons. A.J.
|Ducks in A.J. Jolly Lake|
Just shy of 0.3 miles, the trail seems to end at an intersection with a faint gravel road. To continue the loop, you need to turn right and cross
on a secondary dam. An unusual metal-grate walkway provides
passage over the dam’s concrete spillway.
At the north end of the dam, turn right to continue the loop. The park’s famous golf course can be seen to
the left here, but a sign warns that trespassing on the golf course is strictly
prohibited. A.J. Jolly
|Looking across A.J. Jolly Lake|
You now enter an area of dense honeysuckle as the trail climbs slightly to assume an elevation some 20 feet above the lake. Just past 0.4 miles, explore an area to the left marked as a “succession area.” This area features many red cedar trees, which are some of the first tree inhabitants of former farm fields as they revert to forest. The process of reverting to forest is known as forest succession, hence this area’s name.
|Entering the Succession Area|
At the front of the succession area, the Interpretive Trail continues north around the lake. For a little extra adventure, take the narrow dirt Homestead Trail, which departs from the rear of the succession area. The Homestead Trail heads further uphill to pass an old well and homesite before curving right to head back downhill to the wider Interpretive Trail. Turn left to continue the Interpretive Trail.
The balance of the Interpretive Trail descends slightly as it heads up the south side of a narrowing
. Several side trails exit left to head out of
the park. After passing an exhibit on
tree growth, the trail curves right to cross the lake’s feeder stream on a wide
wooden bridge. Very soon thereafter you
exit the woods at a cluster of picnic tables located beside the parking lot,
thus completing the hike. A.J. Jolly